Typed up: on the train to Aswan, at Keylany Hotel in Aswan
Posted from: Keylany Hotel in Aswan
We just left Cairo on November 30. Here are some final thoughts.
It's not an uncommon thing for parents in the US to say things like "my daughter isn't going on any dates until she's 25." I know they're joking when they say that, but definitely they are protective of their girls. I think that if it were socially acceptable to dress your girls in clothes that cover everything, we might see that more often than we'd care to admit. In the end the reason that stated Arab women dress the way they do is for protection from unwanted attention.
Karen pointed me to an article in the NY Times about noise in Cairo. It says the average noise level during the day is 80+ decibels, which is absurdly loud. It really doesn't feel that loud when I walk around. I took a few videos of me walking around so you can decide for yourself how loud it is. (It has crossed my mind that maybe in the study they average the sound intensity before converting to decibels, which will get you a much higher number than converting to decibels and then averaging.) The videos are of a quiet street, a market street, and a noisy street.
I finally worked up enough courage to ask some of the local shopkeepers for their picture. I don't know why courage is required, but I'm always a bit scared asking if I can take somebody's picture. Everybody I asked was happy to have their picture taken. Even the women selling spicy peppers (filfil) agreed, and I was sure she would decline. Some of her customers did ask why I wanted to take her picture. Luckily my Arabic is finally good enough to have simple (and slow, very slow) conversations with people so I could explain that I wanted pictures of Egyptian people in addition to the ones of the monuments that I already have. Everybody whose picture I took at least asked where I was from, and it was very fun overall.
A few days later I gave everybody a print of their picture which they really appreciated as well. The butcher even bought Danielle and I some sodas, which we drank while occupying the only 2 chairs in his shop. That gave me a good view of what all was going on. In the back 3 butchers (2 with band aids on a finger) were cutting up meat. In the front some younger men were helping customers. One customer got a cow femur, hacked into pieces. Another just got some meat. The most interesting (as in: not what I would buy) was a lady who walked out with 2 bull testicles mixed in with some liver, all sliced up for her by the butcher. As an aside, they don't do ribs here. When they're butchering the animal they seem to debone it entirely, and the ribs just end up all cleaned in a pile on the floor.
In general, people here are much more approachable than at home. They just have a lot more free time. Many shopkeepers just hang out in front of their store all day, and if you spoke their language they'd be happy to talk to you. This makes me wish I know their language, but also makes me question why I don't talk to more strangers at home where I do know the language. People in foreign lands might be more interesting, but I rarely venture outside my social circle at home so there's plenty to explore there too. I hope to talk to more people when we get back.
TEData worked out well as a DSL provider, although it did take them forever to turn on service. Since then there was only one evening where it didn't work. Other than that it's worked well and was pretty cheap, even including renting a wireless router.